Category Archives: Transportation

Why I refuse to let the Costa Concordia scare me away from cruising (and why you should too)

Despite how tragic this is (not to mention how fake and photoshopped the picture looks), this isn't a good representation of how typical cruising goes down. Er, I mean how typical cruising happens (too soon for a pun).

In light of the recent tragedy in Italy, speculation is being raised about the safeness of cruising. It’s a valid concern, but society is letting a rare, albeit horrific, accident get the better of them. The cruise industry is sure to see some decline in numbers this year- or at least for the next few months- but recent events aside, cruising is not any more dangerous than it has been in the past. In fact, compared to the dangers we encounter in everyday life, cruising is safer than some activities we participate in on a daily basis.

You are more likely to die in a car crash. Automobiles are probably the most dangerous motorized vessel we could ever step foot in. Drivers on the roads these days have become more careless, and, thanks to technology, have displayed riskier behavior than in years past. Currently, texting while driving is outlawed in 27 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia. While the remaining states are pushing to pass the law as well, having a law in effect doesn’t mean it will stop drivers from committing the act of texting while driving. In fact, more than ever, people are talking and texting while driving, with no fear of consequences. In 2010, there were over 32,000 automobile fatalities in the U.S. alone. Last year, there were less than 200 deaths on cruise ships, with less than half that number directly related to sinkings. The most notable crash of 2011, that of the Russian ship the Bulgaria, only contributed about 50 percent of the total death toll, putting death by cruising low on the scale of dangerous activities.

The odds are in your favor. Accidents happen. They are a part of life and are happening everyday all over the world. In fact, there’s probably an accident happening somewhere at this exact moment. But, with such low statistics surrounding cruise fatalities, the likelihood of your cruise ship sinking is slim to none.

Just a guess, but I don't think you'd survive that.

It’s better than flying to your vacation destination. If you’re in a “cruise crash,” you have a window of time to get yourself safely off the boat and to safety; however small or big the window may be, you still have that fighting chance. If you choose instead to fly to a destination, you face the risk of a plane crash. Planes are more likely to crash than a cruise is; flying leaves more room for error and, unlike a cruise crash, if you go down in a plane you have little to no chance of survival, especially depending on where you crash (or what you crash into).

There are probably a million other reasons to support the claim that cruising is no more dangerous now than it was last week, before the Costa Concordia went down. With the dangers we face on a daily basis, there’s no logical reason to keep yourself from enjoying life just on the off chance something bad might happen.

Besides, I have to keep reassuring myself of this, because I’m in the middle of planning a free cruise (right?! be jealous). So as long as I don’t end up with a bonehead captain- one who decides to not only go off course, but to abandon ship before everyone reaches safety- I should be in the clear.

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Filed under Accident, Advice, destruction, humanity, Opinion, Society, Transportation, Travel

Why I will (probably) never run a yellow light again (and other insights into a first-time experience)

Car accidents suck.

We know this as fact because they’re a part of everyday life, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. We’re intrigued by them because we’re nosy, we want to know what happened, how it happened, who was involved, whether they’re okay or not. We want to have a part in helping, in saving someone or calming them down. For most of us, we never believe one will ever happen to us. We see them all the time, we hear the sirens and wonder where they’re going. We sit in traffic because of them. We drive by them, rubbernecking to get the best look. Sometimes we’re even (un)fortunate enough to witness one. But none of it compares to the reality of being in one.

I wish I could still say I’ve never been in a car accident. To still have the pride of knowing I’ve done everything I can as a driver to avoid a crash. But I know things happen, things we can’t plan for, things we never anticipated. You can’t have that many close calls without ever knowing what the real thing feels like.

It doesn’t happen like you think it would. There’s no slow-motion flashback of your life, no replay of all the things you’re going to miss if you die. You don’t even have time to react because by the time you realize what’s happening, it’s already over. Cue: aftershock.

I always thought the sound of two cars colliding was exactly how they portray it in the movies. That crunching sound when one car smashes into the other. But it’s nothing like that. I heard the screeching tires, his brakes working overtime to stop the impact; I don’t even remember seeing him. I just remember the popping sound of his front end meeting my right rear tire.

It’s kind of like popping a balloon. Or uncorking a loud bottle of champagne. It’s fast and loud and nothing like what I expected a car crash to sound like.

But it sure hurt like hell.

My poor baby. Fingers crossed they can put her back together again.

I would imagine side impacts hurt a lot worse than front or rear impacts. While hanging out in a neck brace, on a backboard in the ambulance, the EMT, who genuinely entertained my witty remarks and blubbering commentary, confirmed my beliefs (it would make sense that your body can’t get thrown sideways without a little residual pain. or a lot). Thankfully for me, I walked away with nothing but some seriously sore body parts (see: strained neck and bruised ribs), but it was more than enough to completely rock me to my core.

Even now, several days later, it still feels surreal, like it was a dream I had, or something I made up in my mind. I didn’t even scream- sure, in my head I was yelling “did I just get hit? was I in a car accident?!” but no words ever came out of my mouth. I didn’t even hit the brakes- I really didn’t need to, I guess. His car slammed me sideways and stopped me facing the wrong direction. My first thoughts were “did that just happen?”; my mind raced, not knowing what to do. My windshield wipers were going off; I couldn’t figure out how to turn them off. I didn’t know what to do, did I move my car out of the road? My first thought was to call my parents. Some nice man came over to see if I was okay, and I put him on the phone with my dad. Thank god for that guy, cause I was crying so hard I couldn’t get the words out: I was in a car accident.

It’s weird to analyze the thoughts that enter your head when you’ve had an accident. I didn’t want to move for fear of further injury, so I waited in my car for the ambulance. Looking around, I noticed there wasn’t any inside damage to my car; nothing had gotten thrown around much, there was no broken glass or jagged car parts jutting in at me. I thanked god I had dropped my laptop off at home before going back out; I would have been pissed if my computer had been busted. Same thing with my phone; surprisingly it was fine, everything was fine. The only thing that had fallen onto the ground was a check. I was anxious about that check. I didn’t want it to get lost or be left behind, and I couldn’t move to bend down and retrieve it. When the EMT came in on the passenger’s side, I kindly asked him to shove it in my purse. When my dad arrived (I explicitly demanded I not be taken to the hospital until he got there), he took my purse, and I finally stopped worrying someone was going to jack my stuff. Now all I had to worry about was the pain in my back and the bruises from my seatbelt.

I’d like to say being in a car accident has opened my eyes and changed my life- and maybe it would have moreso if it had been worse (though I’m very grateful it wasn’t). Yes, I treat driving a little differently than I used to. Yes, I’m a little more cautious of all the a-holes on the road. Yes, I value my life and hope I never have to go through this (or put anyone through this) again. Will I never run a yellow light again? Probably not.

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Filed under car accident, community, Florida, rescue, Society, Transportation

Jolley Trolley gets cool addition

One ride on the Jolley Trolley is all it takes to understand its appeal.

When Cathy Frain and Chuck Shaw come to visit relatives every year, the Jolley Trolley is always on their to-do list. They like to ride the trolley and use it as a means of getting around to sightsee, shop and dine along its route.

“We love the trolley,” Frain said.

Residents and tourists alike enjoy trolley rides up and down Clearwater Beach, and even as far as Tarpon Springs on the weekend routes. Riders soon can ride in air-conditioned comfort, as the Clearwater Jolley Trolley recently purchased a specially designed tram.

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Filed under community, Entertainment, family fun, Florida, Transportation